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Indiana Makes Bar Exam Changes Amid Pandemic, Online Testing Issues

Peter Balonon-Rosen/IPB News

Indiana’s bar exam – required for new lawyers to earn their licenses – is going to be very different this year. The state had to adjust its biannual exam due to COVID-19, moving to an online test.

A practice run of the system recently encountered issues, including even trouble logging in. The Indiana Supreme Court decided to pivot – the bar exam will be conducted via email; timed, but not proctored and open book.

Chief Justice Loretta Rush said future clients of these new lawyers should trust that they’ll be qualified, even with a seemingly easier test.

“There are other checks and balances – with regard to the professional responsibility tests that have to be done, the character and fitness that have to be done," Rush said. "We have a disciplinary commission.”

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The court weighed not requiring the bar exam this time, as other states have done amid the pandemic. But Rush said she and her fellow justices consulted with many around the state – including law school deans – about the best course.

She also said it’s important to push forward and make sure the state is adding more attorneys.

“You look at our caseload in Indiana, you look at, sort of – we started a rural justice initiative to get more lawyers in rural communities that don’t have lawyers,” Rush said.

Rush said she also anticipates a “crush” of cases as the state eventually emerges from the pandemic.

The remote bar exam is scheduled for Aug. 4.

Contact reporter Brandon at or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.